Is Lolicon Legal in the United States?

by Ambrosio Rodriguez | Jan 22, 2021 | Child Pornography
a person using the computer

Strict federal and state laws protect children from sexual abuse, child pornography, child molestation, and other sex crimes. Our laws severely punish individuals for a variety of sex crimes involving children.

However, many people are unaware that watching cartoons could get them into trouble legally. Watching animated depictions of children engaged in sexual activity could result in a child pornography charge.

What is Lolicon?

Anime describes all types of animated works in Japan. To the rest of the world, anime refers to Japanese animation or a common animation style in Japan.

Modern anime began around 1956. Many people are familiar with the Pokémon characters, which are a popular form of Japanese anime.

Much of the early anime was directed to children. However, films and other materials were created with plots and characters that appealed to adults.

Loli is a form of Japanese anime. It depicts underage cartoon characters in sexually explicit situations. The cartoons are focused on sexualized plots and characters.

Lolicon is anime that depicts underage girls. Loli involving underage boys is called shotacon.

Loli is common in Japan. However, many people and groups are opposed to loli because of the sexual conduct involving underage characters. Questions regarding the legality of lolicon and the need to regulate the material have increased in recent years.

Is Loli Legal in the United States?

Possessing child pornography is illegal in the United States. Under the PROTECT Act of 2003, any obscene images depicting a minor is considered child pornography. The act was passed in part to make virtual child pornography illegal, even though it did not depict an actual child.

Because lolicon depicts an identifiable minor engaged in sexually explicit situations, loli violates federal law in the United States. You can be arrested and charged with a crime if you possess lolicon in any form.

Other countries have also enacted laws making lolicon and shotacon illegal. They criminalize loli as pedophilia, child pornography, or other illegal material. However, loli continues to be legal in some countries.

International laws governing lolicon vary. Loli is not illegal in Germany because it does not depict real people. However, under the obscenity laws in the United Kingdom, viewing pornographic images of minors, including anime, is illegal.

What Does California Law Say About Lolicon?

Under California Penal Code §311.3, child pornography includes material that depicts children and minors simulating or engaging in sexual conduct. However, the law does not explicitly mention loli or materials similar to loli.

In the case of People vs. Gerber, 196 Cal.App.4th 368 (Cal. Ct. App. 2011), the California Court of Appeal ruled that child pornography requires a “real child” engaged in sexual conduct or simulated sexual conduct. If you apply this ruling, loli would not be illegal in California.

However, because loli remains illegal under federal law, if you watch or possess loli in California, you could be arrested on federal pornography charges.

Proving Guilt for Child Pornography Charges in California

The state must prove two key legal elements to obtain a conviction on child pornography charges. It must prove that you knowingly possessed the material in question. It must also prove that you knew or should have reasonably known that the individuals in the material were under the age of 18 years.

Proving that you were in possession of the material is not too difficult if law enforcement officers had a valid search warrant and caught you with the material. However, proving that you knew or should have known that the individuals in the material were minors is much more difficult.

Potential Defenses for Child Pornography Charges

The potential criminal penalties for a child pornography conviction are severe. You face lifelong consequences if the state proves its case against you.

A criminal defense lawyer can help you develop a defense strategy to fight child pornography charges. Some potential defenses might include:

  • You honestly believed the individuals in the material were over 18 years of age
  • You received the material from another party and did not request the material (i.e., spam email)
  • You did not intend to access the material online (went to the wrong website) and immediately deleted any downloads, history, and cookies to prevent further access to the material

Your defense depends on the facts and circumstances of your case. A careful analysis of the facts and the law is required to determine the best way to fight the criminal charges.

One of the best ways to help yourself is to be honest with your lawyer. Tell your attorney everything about the situation. The worst time for your lawyer to hear about evidence against you for the first time is in court.

Last Updated on February 20, 2021